The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 is one of the air resistance models from Stamina’s incredibly popular range of indoor home rowing machines.
But how does their air rower stack up against two of the most highly rated rowers under $500 – the Body Trac 1050 and 1215 Orbital?
This is one of the questions we’re going to be answering in our review, where we’ll also be taking a look at everything from the frame and console features, through to Stamina’s own customer service record.
One of the most important design features to draw attention to is the angle of the frame. Whereas on some rowers you can switch between a flat profile and a series of incline settings, the Stamina ATS 1399 only has one fixed level of incline.
This certainly increases the workload on your legs and will build strength quicker than on a rower with a flatter profile frame, but feedback in the customer reviews seems like this is a point of contention. Some people love it and find it increases the intensity of their workouts, while others would have liked to been given some flatter angles as well.
Aside from the angle of the frame, the width of the rail and thick padding applied to the seat ensures you remain comfortable throughout the full range of motion.
The foot plates are large enough to accommodate a wide range of shoe sizes, with nylon straps added to prevent your feet from slipping, and allow you to move more quickly through the recovery stage of the stroke.
Caps on each end of the base stabilizers not only help improve stability and prevent the machine from sliding on wooden floors, but also help protect the floor on which they rest to prevent the need for any mats or interlocking floor tiles.
If you’re short on space, although it doesn’t fold up to quite the same degree as Stamina’s Orbital 1215 rower, it can be useful having the option to fold the rail up and reduce its footprint by around 38%. Although the ATS 1399 only weighs 47 lbs, the transport wheels at the front still make it easier to move around if needed.
Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 – Features Summary
- Wind-resistance rowing machine with multi-function performance monitor
- Monitor displays speed, distance, time, and calories burned
- Padded, upholstered seat
- Large footplates for any size user
- Over-sized, angled seat rail for smooth sliding
- Folds for storage
- Built-in wheels for portability
- Floor protectors prevent skidding
How does the air resistance work?
By pulling on the handle of the rowing machine, which is usually connected via a belt or chain, it rotates an internal flywheel which is fitted with a number of precision-placed fan blades. Although it’s not something that the ATS 1399 offers, models like the Concept2 Model D are fitted with what’s known as a ‘damper’, which affects the flow of air through the fan and influences the feel of the rowing stroke.
The only real downside to machines that operate using air resistance is that they tend to be noisier than models that rely on hydraulic or magnetic resistance.
Display console features
Although it may appear similar to the consoles on Stamina’s other indoor rowing machines, there are subtle differences that meant the 1215 Orbital was chosen in place of the Stamina ATS 1399 for our top rower under $500.
While we probably wouldn’t expect to find 500m split measurements and USB data transfer options for your workout data on a machine at this price point, we would hope to find a basic row count.
Unfortunately this is missing from the ATS 1399, but available on the 1215 Orbital.
The feedback provided by the screen on the 1399 includes speed, distance, time, and calories burned, although many customers have found the ‘calories burned’ reading to be inaccurate, and Stamina themselves have said that it should only be used for comparisons between workouts on this machine.
Inaccuracy of the calories burned reading wasn’t something that particularly bothered us though, and even on machines that let you enter your weight – a key figure used in most calculations – many people believe there are many more factors that need to be taken into account to provide an accurate number.
The console is powered by two AA batteries, which is one more than the 1215 Orbital requires, but does mean that you don’t have to position the machine near a power outlet to start your workout.
Ease of assembly / Maintenance required
One of the benefits that an air resistance rower – such as the Stamina 1399 – has over hydraulic resistance machines is that much of the assembly will already be done at the factory. This includes the internal fan and casing, as well as the resistance system and handle attachment.
When you compare this with an outrigger style rower or Stamina’s own 1215 orbital, where you have to manually assemble the shock cylinders and free motion arms, the time it takes to get setup is significantly reduced.
In this case you’ll be provided with a clear hardware identification chart, so that you can check all of the parts you need are in the box before you start.
The assembly process itself is already very straightforward, but clearly worded instructions coupled with exploded diagrams and parts references make everything a lot easier.
Once you have the front base stabilizer and pedals attached to the fan casing, all that’s really left is to attach the seat to the rail and connect the rail to the front casing.
Based on the clarity of the user manual and the average time reported by customers in their reviews, it shouldn’t take much more than 30 minutes to get everything setup and ready for your first workout.
Stamina tend to recommend a similar maintenance routine for each of their indoor rowers. However, they don’t mention any specific cleaning solutions in the same way that companies like Precor do with their equipment. Only that the various parts need to be cleaned with an absorbent cloth.
As well as wiping down the roller tracks and seat rail after each use, Stamina recommend that you check the tension provided by the fan system by pulling the handle towards you. Also, the belt itself should be checked for signs of wear or damage.
The good thing is that in terms of surface area, the ATS 1399 isn’t as large as equipment such as ellipticals or treadmills. This means the maintenance we mentioned above shouldn’t take much more than 2 to 3 minutes.
Although there seem to be mixed reviews on how quickly replacement parts are despatched after being ordered, we’ve found Stamina to have an excellent customer service record on this and other indoor rowing machines.
The only downside is that they don’t tend to have a customer service rep maintaining an active presence on sites like Amazon, so if you have a question it’s best to visit their website directly, or call them at 1-800-375-7520.
But with over 150 currently available on Amazon alone, reading through them all and filtering out the unique information can be a time consuming process.
That’s why we read through these reviews ourselves and put together the following lists of pros and cons based on the points that were mentioned most often, to act as a quick reference guide.
- Resistance settings are challenging enough to tone a variety of muscle groups and provide an effective cardio workout
- Easy to put together
- Assembly tools are provided
- Solid frame construction improves stability
- Smooth gliding action from the seat along the rail
- Breeze from the fan keeps you cool while you row
- No fixed limit to the resistance – the faster you row the more challenging it becomes
- Folding design reduces the space required when not in use
- Great customer service
- The air resistance system creates more noise than their 1215 Orbital rower
- Limited display console feedback with no stroke rate or 500m split metrics
- Warranty period is shorter than similarly priced models (5 years on frame instead of 3 for their own 1215 Orbital rower). However, it’s also longer than some (only 1 year on the frame for Stamina’s Body Trac Glider).
- Seat rail is at an incline which isn’t adjustable, proving to be an issue for some reviewers
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: 3 years
- Parts: 90 days